APICIUS, De re coquinaria libri Decem

APICIUS, De re coquinaria libri Decem

Venice: Bernardino Vitali, [c.1498-1500]                                                                                                              £ 17,000

Quarto (195x148mm) 40 leaves, a-h⁴; Apicius’ work complete, but not including either of Suetonius’ works; printed in 30 long lines, roman type; colophon on p.80; reused limp velum, some crinkling and staining, leather ties, edges a little worn on title page, light waterstaining to margins throughout, later endpapers, occasional textual underlining and early ink annotations to margins, as well as a longer 6-line ink inscription in Latin under title; ornamental woodcut initials with floral elements on a2r, a4v and b4v, other small woodcut initials throughout.

A wonderfully preserved copy of the second incunable edition of Apicius’ cookbook, printed in Venice. It consists of Ancient Roman cookery recipes compiled in around the 5th century. The work is divided into ten chapters, each going into details about a specific subject, such as wines and preserves, vegetables, fowl, venison, shellfish, etc. It provides helpful tips that are still used in today’s kitchen, such as keeping vegetables green by boiling them with cooking soda, or numerous sauces to go with cooked fish, as well as more interesting recipes such as rose and violet wines to work as potent laxatives.

Marcus Gavius Apicius is believed to have been a Roman gourmet and lover of luxury, who lived sometime in the 1st century AD and while this fascinating Roman cookbook is attributed to him, the details remain unknown. This work was edited by Blassius Lanceloti whose name appears in the caption of the dedicatory letter, and includes poems by Antonius Mota and Ioannes Salandus in the colophon.

Brunet I, 343 ; Notaker, Printed Cookbooks in Europe, 1470-1700, 1002.3; Goff, A-922; ISTC ia00922000; BMC V, 550; USTC 997592.